Washington, DC—Authoritarians are escalating their efforts to manipulate information in Latin America, flooding newswires, television, and social media with narratives that undermine democracies and make authoritarian governments seem more desirable. In a new report released by the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Deepening the Response to Authoritarian Information Operations in Latin America, the authors detail the increased collaboration between Russia, China, and regional autocratic regimes, such as Venezuela and Cuba, and ways for civil society to tackle this challenge.
“The experience of Latin America, where there are many vulnerable democracies, is a critical example of how the Russian government and the Chinese Communist Party use information and ideas to project influence, attack, democratic values and institutions, and prop up autocratic allies,” said Adam Fivenson, the report’s editor and senior program officer for information space integrity at the Forum. “Amid the deluge, civil society initiatives to secure the information space are intensifying, but current efforts may not be enough to counter the increased collaboration of authoritarian actors.”
The report’s first essay by Iria Puyosa, senior researcher at the Atlantic Council’s DFR Lab, documents key examples of autocratic efforts in Latin America to normalize a nondemocratic worldview, hostile to core democratic ideals such as the protection of human rights, the rule of law, free and fair elections, and independent media.
The second essay by Mariví Marín Vázquez, founder and executive director of ProBox, argues that current efforts in Latin America to counter information operations are critical but not sufficient. Current initiatives must be augmented by underutilized innovation, such as open-source intelligence, a stronger focus on tying narratives to their authoritarian authors, in addition to cross-disciplinary collaboration among civil society actors. Marín concludes that democratic actors must be more proactive in securing the information space.
NED will host a virtual public event to launch the report on Tuesday, November 28th from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm ET. The authors and editor will be joined by commentator Fabiola Cordova, deputy director for Latin America and the Caribbean at NED, and moderator Moisés Naím, distinguished fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, for a discussion on the report’s key takeaways. Register here to attend the virtual discussion.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is an independent, nonprofit, grant-making organization dedicated to the development and strengthening of democratic values and institutions around the world. With an annual appropriation from Congress, NED supports democratic advocates in over 100 countries. NED’s program is informed and enhanced by the work of the International Forum for Democratic Studies; the World Movement for Democracy; and the Center for International Media Assistance.
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